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TCA Honors 2003 Company Equipment Drivers of the Year
In the 15th Annual “Company Equipment Driver of the Year” contest sponsored by the Truckload Carriers Association, Detroit Diesel and Truckers News, five TCA-member company drivers were honored as the nation’s best. The awards, presented March 16th during TCA's Annual Convention at the Hilton Waikoloa Resort Hotel, were based on the drivers' excellent safety records, unblemished work history, and involvement in the community and industry.
The top five winners and their prizes are:
Ronald A. Johnson of Witte Bros. Exchange, Troy, Missouri. Ronald Johnson has wanted to drive big trucks for as long as he can remember. The son of a truck driver, he remembers how fascinating the world looked out of the window of his dad’s dump truck. Since he started his career in the trucking industry in 1972 he has logged over 3.5 million miles. Johnson began driving for Witte Brothers Exchange in 1980 and has risen to the highest seniority of any driver in the fleet. He has won numerous awards including being named the 2001 Missouri Motor Carrier Driver of the Year.
Mr. Johnson will receive the following prizes:
David H. Garrelts, Sherman Bros. Heavy Trucking, Harrisburg, Oregon. For David Garrelts commitment is more than just a word, he has demonstrated a commitment to his company and trucking safety for the past 23 years. Garrelts has spent his entire career with Sherman Bros. Heavy Trucking and has logged over 2.8 million accident free miles. He attributes his success to his understanding that there will be good days and bad days and not to quit just because you had a bad day. Mr. Garrelts considers his dad to be his hero and is thankful for the support of his family including four sisters and nephews.
Mr. Garrelts will receive the following prizes:
Robert P. Salmi, American Eagle Lines, Lancaster, Texas. Robert Salmi credits the work ethic his parents instilled in him and the support of his wife for making his trucking career so successful. Salmi has driven over 1 million accident free miles in eleven years and has been with American Eagle Lines (a division of Frozen Foods Express) since 1992. Mr. Salmi serves as a driver trainer for his company and is a member of FFE’s President’s Gold Fleet for outstanding safety performance. He believes that his wife probably deserves this award more than he does because of her love and strong support at home.
Mr. Salmi will receive the following prizes:
Gerald Billing, MacKinnon Transport, Inc., Guelph, Ontario. Gerald Billing is proud of the part he plays in the economy by ensuring the smooth flow of goods. He has driven over 1.8 million accident free miles in 19 years and stresses safety both in the cab of his truck and the seat of his car. Billing currently shows his professional pride as a member of the Ontario Road Knights program, which allows him to speak to service groups, schools, and fellow truckers about sharing the road with trucks and the importance of the industry. Billing also serves as a Driver Trainer for MacKinnon Transport and though driving has taken him away from some time with his family he gains pride from pleasing his customers.
Fifth Place Winner, Paul J. Nesslerodt, D.M. Bowman, Inc., Williamsport, Maryland. Paul J. Nesslerodt, known as Joe, is a humble and quiet man who lives by the golden rule, “treat others as you deserve to be treated.” He is also an exceptional truck driver with over 3.8 million accident free miles in his 33 years on the road. By the time he was 16 years old Joe was able to drive just about anything and in high school he began delivering loads of pulp wood after school. Shortly thereafter he began a driving career and has never looked back. Joe credits his wife Karen, with his career success, calling her the bedrock of the family.
Mr. Billing and Mr. Nesslerodt will receive:
Editor’s Note: To access photos of the top five Company Equipment Driver of the Year Contest winners click here.
TCA is the only national trade association whose collective sole focus is the truckload segment of the motor carrier industry. The association represents dry van, refrigerated, flatbed, and intermodal container carriers operating in the 48 contiguous states as well as Alaska, Mexico, and Canada. Representing operators of over 200,000 trucks, which collectively produce an annual revenue of over $20 billion, TCA is an organization tailored to specific truckload carrier needs.